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Glenn Kotche's favourite author in Berlin

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Last weekend, I brought a friend in Berlin to her first Wilco show. Afterwards we were able to say hello to Glenn Kotche (!!!!) who was with a tall silver haired gentleman. After the man left, Glenn told us that this was one of his favourite authors.

Back in Dublin we excitedly told a third friend not at the show about the rock star encounter, and she asked us for the name of the author -- completely missing the main gist of the story. (Mental note to move her to my B-List.)

Of course, I can't remember.

Does anyone here have an inkling who that author might be? I only remember that it sounded Germanic or Scandinavian. 

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Your description sounds like it could be Karl Ove Knausgaard. I'm a big fan of his writing. His My Struggle books are just amazing and recount his own life experiences. I remember in one volume he mentions listening to Summerteeth, and I've since seen him in interviews wearing a Wilco t-shirt, so it would make sense that he'd go to a Wilco show!

Would be pretty cool if it was him!

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How did the connection of writing an autobiography called "my struggle" not discourage him? In the Norwegian it's "Min Kamp". I guess he's reclaiming something.


According to the Wiki page: "The novel's Norwegian title, Min Kamp, is very similar to Hitler's Mein Kampf. The book's editor, Geir Gulliksen, originally forbade Knausgård from using the title, but later changed his mind. Knausgård's British publisher at the time was not interested in the book, and Knausgård did not protest the German translation publisher's decision to change the title in that region." And, "The sixth book has a 400-page essay on Hitler's early life and autobiography."


I'll have to reserve judgement until I read it I guess. (Are there Cliff's Notes?!) I never made it through Remembrance of Things Past despite starting and stopping over the decades.


Wonder if @randomname has any insights.

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As far as the title, I think it is problematic, and is deliberately meant to be so. I've read the first 5 volumes. The 6th hasn't been published in English yet, where comments on Nazism are, as you say, direct. The only overt political comments I can recall from the first 5 books were merely some gentle ribbing of Swedish society and a self-description of himself as a "materialist in my heart of hearts", or something to that effect.

I've read quite a few Knausgaard interviews (and saw one in person at the New Yorker festival a couple years ago). On the one hand, I've heard him describe the title as, in some way, a "provocation", but I don't think it's a reckless one. I believe it's bound up in ideas of taboo. He's described how Hitler's autobiography is one of the few (only?) books that will cause discomfort in people when seen reading it in public. The level of detail with which Knausgaard describes his own experiences and especially those of his family and friends was extremely controversial in Norway when first published. I think there is perhaps a comment on the taboo, or forbidden, in the use of "My Struggle" as a title.

That is one, maybe superficial, explanation. The book is very layered and I trust there are many more reasons for choosing that particular title. On a literal level, it is very much the story of his "struggle" (with becoming a writer, becoming a father and a husband, and probably most importantly, reckoning with his own distant, alcoholic, and emotionally traumatic father's death).

I do sometimes wish he had chosen a different title, because the "provocation" does exactly what it is supposed to do and causes understandable anxieties in people who haven't read the books. But who am I to take issue with his motives? I firmly believe it's not a gimmick, anyway.


It's funny you should mention Proust, who Knausgaard acknowledges as a major influence. I've also tried and failed with Remembrance of Things Past several times. But I've personally found there is something very addictive about the My Struggle books that makes them much more of a page-turner than Proust. Knausgaard's book is definitely less polished and formally structured than Proust's. I wouldn't let the bulky size of the books intimidate me.

Next time you're in a bookstore, read just the first few pages of the first volume. It's very beautiful stuff.

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